Arugula usually appears in spring salad preparations, as it significantly adds a unique and pleasant peppery flavor to the dish. Also called a garden rocket, this vegetable is highly prized by both chefs and home cooks, as it is easy and quick to prepare, as well as affordable. Unfortunately, arugula is often left out when mentioning the best leafy green sources of nutrition when it is first cultivated and used as a medicinal plant and aphrodisiac way back ancient times. So if you are foreign to this natural food, then read on to learn more about the health benefits of arugula leaves.
Arugula is one of the most nutrient-dense cruciferous vegetables you can enjoy any time of the day!
Considered as one of the more underrated members of the cruciferous family, arugula actually has a long list of advantages for your body that can compare to the popular cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, Brussels, and kale. It contains antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and other important phytochemicals while being low in calories, all of which immensely help your immune system fight off infections and illnesses from different origins. Dietary consumption of arugula leaves has been associated with improved brain and metabolic functions, better nutrient absorption, and enhanced eye, skin, and bone health. Consider trying this vegetable now, or you’ll never know its wonderful effects for your overall wellness.
What is Arugula?
Arugula, scientific name Eruca vesicaria, is a small, annual, low-growing leafy plant belonging to the Brassicaceae family, formerly known as Cruciferae, along with other culinary and economically important crucifers, including cabbages, collards, watercress, and broccoli. It takes on several names throughout the world, but the most popular ones are garden or salad rocket, colewort, rucola, rucoli, rugula, and roquette.
The green plant is native to the coastal areas of the Mediterranean region, where its leaves and blossoms are still widely used in Moroccan, Italian, Portuguese, and Turkish cuisines. However, its first recorded evidence of cultivation can be found in some texts in the Bible that were written in the 5th century A.D. Historians also believed that ancient Romans times have long been using the plant as an aphrodisiac and medicinal herb. Arugula eventually reached America through the British colonists but only became popular in the early 1900s.
The sweet and peppery arugula offers a lot of phytonutrients crucial for maintaining a robust immune system!
Generally, arugula thrives in well-lit, well-drained, and fertile soil and can reach for about three feet tall. Its leaves are elongated, lobular, succulent, and feature a light-green color with striking green midribs. Young arugula leaves tend to be more tender, less peppery, and sweeter in flavor compared to the mature ones, which have a sharp and spicy taste.
As it is easily-cultivated and quick-growing, arugula is currently relished all over the world. Many health-conscious and fitness enthusiasts valued the cruciferous vegetable as much as the other leafy greens due to its high levels of antioxidants, carotenoids, vitamins like folic acid, B-vitamins, and vitamin C, A, E, and K, minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium, and other plant-derived chemicals crucial for maintaining robust health.
Nutritional Profile of Arugula
What are the Major Health Benefits of Arugula?
A scientific paper presents that arugula is chock-full of antioxidants, which help inhibit damages from unstable free radicals in the body and exhibit powerful cytoprotective, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic properties. These rich antioxidant compounds, such as glucosinolates and vitamin C, naturally protect and reverse cellular injuries, maintain enzymes that seek and destroy infections, and block various pro-inflammatory agents.
Immunomodulators are substances used to normalize and regulate your immune system and avoid excessive responses that may lead to chronic diseases. Arugula leaves, like other cruciferous vegetables, contain a lipid-soluble metabolite compound called diindolylmethane, which displays potent immunomodulatory activities, treating certain respiratory and cervical illnesses.
Arugula’s vital nutrients can be utilized as a natural and cheap antibiotic due to their inhibitory action against the growth of several pathogenic bacteria and viruses, which cause mild to severe infections. Extracts from the plant are found to manifest strong antimicrobial activities against tested microorganisms like Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.
Health Benefits of Arugula Leaves
1. Arugula improves your immunity
With its rich vitamins and minerals, fresh arugula can stimulate white blood cells and other immunity agents to bolster your body’s protection. The leaves’ vitamin C, supported by copper, has a natural antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial property that scavenges free radical damage, preventing scurvy diseases, chronic inflammation, and pathogenic infections.
2. Arugula strengthens bones
Arugula is one of the best vegetable sources of vitamin K, which is crucial for stronger and more well-formed bones, preventing both activity-based and age-related results of bone degeneration. It also owns sufficient amounts of minerals like iron and copper and small quantities of calcium, manganese, phosphorus, and potassium while being low in oxalates, which is the ideal food characteristic for supporting healthy bones.
3. Carotenoid-rich arugula protects eyes
Carotenoids like lutein, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin, all of which are highly present in arugula, are naturally-occurring substances that have been proven to improve eyesight and overall eye health. These antioxidants combat the most delicate parts of your eyes like cornea and retina from UV and free radical damages, lowering your risk of macular degeneration and blindness.
4. It lessens various heart risks
A regular intake of arugula, which is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, has been linked to a lesser risk of stroke, heart attack, and cardiovascular ailments. The vegetable’s low-calorie and high-nutrient quality benefits heart health by enhancing blood circulation, stabilizing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and inflammation, and controlling heart rate.
5. Arugula leaves prevent diabetes
Green leafy diets, including arugula supplementation, have been known to naturally aid the treatment and prevention of diabetes. With its low sugar and high nutrient content, arugula can regulate blood glucose levels, reduce inflammation, and improve insulin responsiveness.
6. Arugula combats cancer
Laboratory study found that arugula, like other cruciferous vegetables, is an excellent source of phytochemicals, including indoles, isothiocyanates, sulforaphane, and thiocyanates. These compounds have been found to work together and counter the carcinogenic impacts of excessive estrogen hormones, offering great protection against breast, cervical, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancers. The green leaves’ high levels of carotenoids and vitamin A also support the body’s fight against cancers of the skin, oral cavity, and lungs.
7. It treats and inhibits Alzheimer’s disease
The isothiocyanates in arugula don’t only eliminate free radicals and tumor cells, but also hinder the generation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which potentially damage the brain. This neuroprotective property of the arugula is further supported by its abundant vitamin K, which slows down the degradation of your neural pathways as you age, treating and preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
8. The leaves’ fiber aids digestion
Arugula owns a wonderful proportion of dietary fiber that has always been associated with a better and healthier digestion process, as well as the overall metabolism of the body. Regular consumption of arugula has been shown to restore your pH balance, nourish and hydrate your digestive tract, strengthen the lining of your gut, colon, and intestines, and decrease the occurrence of constipation and other digestive issues.
9. Dietary arugula supports weight loss
You can enjoy your daily arugula-enriched meal or beverage without worrying too much about weight gain, as it is low in calories while being high in energy, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Including this vegetable in your diet can provide positive effects on your nutritional needs and weight loss plans.
10. It eases erectile dysfunction
As mentioned earlier, one of the traditional uses of arugula is being an aphrodisiac or medicine for increasing sexual desires, especially in men. Present studies revealed that consuming arugula can improve the effectiveness of Sildenafil, a prescriptive drug for high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction.
How to Prepare
Fresh arugula is often available with roots still attached. To prepare, cut open its bushel and remove thick stems, as well as wilted, bruised, or yellow leaves. Place them in a huge bowl of water, swishing until all dirt and soil residues are gone. Then, drain the dirty water and pat the leaves dry using an absorbent cloth.
Here are a few serving preparations to relish your delicious arugula:
- Young tender arugula is an excellent inclusion to your vegetable and even fruit salads, in sandwiches, and both vegan and meat burgers.
- Fresh arugula leaves can be employed in stews, soups, and other poultry and seafood dishes that require cooking.
- Prepare yourself a sweet and peppery arugula juice to refresh your day.
- Finely-chopped fresh arugula can replace unavailable herbs like basil, cilantro, or parsley in various pesto and pasta recipes.
- It can also substitute spinach or watercress in some of your dishes and enjoy a similar texture and taste.
How to Select and Store
Selection: Fresh arugula is generally available all year round, most especially during spring or summer months. To purchase, look for crispy, young, deep-green leaves and stems, which are free from any bruises, slumps, and discoloration.
Storage: Since arugula is delicate and easily-perishable, consume it within one to two days after buying. Store this vegetable like how you do kale or spinach – wrapped in a damp cloth or paper towel. Then, place inside the refrigerator’s vegetable compartment, which is set at high humidity.
Possible Risks and Complications
Arugula has no known severe side effects, as it has low calories, sugar, and oxalate content compared to that of mustard greens, celery, purslane, spinach, and other cruciferous foods. So eating arugula in normal food amounts and moderation is likely safe, even for pregnant and lactating women.
The green leafy arugula is one of the most versatile, economical, and nutrient-dense foods essential for enhancing your overall health. Its mineral and vitamin content greatly supports the maintenance of your eyes, teeth, and bones, while its numerous antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial compounds prevent harmful carcinogens from forming and developing in your skin, lungs, colon, and reproductive organs. Regular incorporation and consumption of the tasty and aromatic arugula reduce your risk of cancer, heart issues, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, bacterial and viral infections, constipation, erectile dysfunction, and unwanted weight gain.
What quick and easy arugula recipe do you want to try? Share your fitness plans with us in the comment box below!